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Outside In: New York from Berlin

One of my favorite things to do when I’m traveling in a new city is read guidebooks about the city I’m living in.

When it’s not hilarious, it can be enlightening: thanks to my Berlin landlord’s copy of Fodor’s New York Citypack Guide (3rd Edition), I learned that Wigstock is celebrated every Labor Day and that there’s a Russian bath around the corner from Astor Place (at 268 E. 10th St, and you can even get beaten with soapy oak leaves if you so desire).

When I skipped to the section on taxis, the Fodor’s guide was even more entertaining:

“Taxi drivers are notorious for (a) knowing nothing about New York geography, (b) not speaking English, and (c) having an improvisational driving style.”

After I finished cracking up, I wanted to point out a couple of things to “the lively London-born Kate Sekules,” who wrote this masterpiece:

1. Driving is by nature improvisational.
2. If you don’t drive improvisationally (i.e. maniacally) in New York, you get nowhere.
3. All New York cabbies are required to pass an English test. We may not all speak perfectly, but we certainly know enough to get you from A to B.
4. On a similar note, every single yellow cabbie in New York has passed a rigorous geography exam, and we sure know more than nothing.

Finally, Kate Sekules, you forgot one very important detail: New York cabbies often have fabulous taste in food, and the intrepid traveler shouldn’t hesitate to turn to us for restaurant recommendations.

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  1. Geez, I don’t want to be mean about Kate so I won’t but even before coming to NYC and hearing all the stereotypes I knew what Layne’s saying to be true…

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